CBCGDFers were honoured to welcome His Eminence (H.E.) Theodore Cardinal McCarrick in Beijing on Aug 14, on which we introduced the Musee Hoang ho Pai ho (HHPH, or Beijiang Museum in Chinese “北疆博物院”) to H.E.
Dr Zhou, the Secretary-General of CBCGDF, believes that the HHPH is another cultural heritage by Western missionaries and deserves more in-depth research on its cultural and historic significance, as well as its biodiversity value based on abundant specimens.
Musee Hoang ho Pai ho (HHPH), also known as the “Huang He Bai He Museum” or the “Beijiang Museum”, is the earliest natural history museum in Northern China. Founded in 1922 and open to the public in 1928, it was renamed into Tianjin Natural History Museum in 1957. The museum was financially supported by the Jesuit Society, and was founded by a French Jesuit, Priest Father Emile Licent (1876-1952), whose Chinese name was Sang Zhihua.
Father Emile Licent arrived in China from France in 1914. On arrival, he began to investigate China’s wild geology, flora, and fauna of the hinterland of the animal Chinese exploration. His collection included more than 200,000 pieces of paleontology, animal, plant, ancient human, rock and mineral specimens, among which were precious and very rare pieces of animal fossils discovered in Gansu, Hebei, and Inner Mongolia.
In the 1930s, a Car Rally was held by the then French Embassy to raise fund for the HHPH museum.
After Anti-Japanese War and a few decades of chaotic years, Father Emile Licent left China. In 1950s, the HHPH was taken over by the government and renamed into Tianjin Natural Museum. In 1959, a portion of the collections of HHPH was transferred to some other places, its original buildings turned into storehouses. The name of HHPH was gradually forgotten by the public.
The forgotten museum remained silent until January 22nd, 2016, when it once again appeared on newspaper for reopening to the public. Now, HHPH exhibits nearly 20,000 collections including complete skeletons of onager (Asiatic wild ass) and woolly rhinoceros (an extinct species of rhinoceros), the Ordos Man’s tooth, and mineral specimens, as well as photos, manuscripts, drawing maps, and research books.
Leaders of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) believe that HHPH is of historic significance as to the faith-based conservation approach, as well as its biodiversity value in the background of a green Belt & Road. They visited HHPH many times in the past months, and had fruitful meetings with the Curator of the Museum. Agreements were reached on working together towards expanding publicity, carrying out genetic research on the specimen, and improving exhibitions section on biodiversity conservation in the museum.
H.E. Cardinal McCarrick thanked the CBCGDF leaders for introduction of the HHPH. He was very happy to know a new site which witnessed the early cultural and scientific exchange by Jesuit missionaries.